World Aids Day – Africa left behind in Australia’s response

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 01 Dec 2008

World Aids Day – Africa left behind in Australia’s response
The Australian Government should use World Aids Day to provide more money address the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa, the region most affected by the virus, according to international aid agency Oxfam.
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said 67 per cent of the world’s HIV population lives in sub-Saharan Africa, and the region accounted for 72 per cent of AIDS deaths last year.
“The Australian Government has increasingly directed its HIV response towards the Asia-Pacific. While we welcome the additional funding for this region, we’re concerned that Africa isn’t getting the support it needs to make progress on this global problem.”
“Australia has a responsibility under its UN commitments to help achieve access to prevention, treatment, care and support for all people living with HIV by 2010,” he said.
In sub-Saharan Africa the HIV epidemic has now orphaned almost 12 million children.
“But the Rudd Government has only committed around $120 million over the next two years to the Global Fund established for fighting the HIV epidemic, according to figures published by the fund itself,” Mr Hewett said.
While that’s more than the contribution of the previous Australian Government, that’s around a quarter of the money promised by the Canadian Government, and 70 per cent less than the Netherlands – which has a similar sized economy to Australia.
“The Australian Government needs to double its contribution to fighting HIV in Africa over the next two years. An extra $120 million will still leave Australia lagging behind the efforts of similar countries, but is a more realistic contribution towards overcoming this epidemic,” Mr Hewett said.
Oxfam Australia works to provide urgently needed healthcare, livelihood support, and education to some of the 22 million people infected with HIV across sub-Saharan Africa.
In Mozambique, which has the tenth highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, our home-based care program is saving lives by helping people access antiretroviral medication, providing basic healthcare, food, and importantly, providing people with much needed company and support.
“Living with HIV in Mozambique often means being alone and stigmatised. By having carers visit people in their homes, we not only provide medical support, but also give them someone to talk to, and help with basic household chores, such as cooking, and caring for children,” Mr Hewett said.
This year, part of the proceeds from Oxfam Australia’s Christmas Peace Appeal will go towards our HIV work in Mozambique.
For more information or to interview Andrew Hewett please contact Kate Thwaites on 0407 515 559 or